Why We're Failing As A Family

“We get distracted by dreams of our own
But nobody’s happy when feeling alone
And knowing how hard it hurts when we fall
We lean another ladder against the wrong wall

Standing on a darkened stage
Stumbling through the lines
Others have excuses
But I have my reasons why.”
– Nickel Creek, “Reasons Why”

In my favorite “spiritual” scene in The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker tries to levitate his X-Wing fighter out of the swamp, and comes really close to succeeding. So close, in fact, that Master Yoda’s eyes widen in amazement. But Luke gets distracted, loses confidence, and fails. Luke tells Master Yoda that the task is just too big for him. Yoda lectures him on the difference between physical size and spiritual size. Luke tells him, “You want the impossible.”

Master Yoda promptly proves him wrong, to which Luke responds, “I – I don’t believe it.”

Master Yoda almost whispers, “That is why you fail.”

As the body of Christ, we’re not surrounded by “some all-powerful Force controlling [our] actions.” It is not some impersonal Force that binds our universe together; it is the almighty God of Heaven with whom we have to do. As a family, many of us recognize that we are failing to DO what Jesus said to do. Not only are we not getting the results our 1st century faith-ancestors got, most of us aren’t even making a credible attempt to do what our Master said was best. I’ve been doing some reading lately, so don’t credit me with the ideas that follow. I’m just trying to put them together in a way from which we can benefit. Let me use one example.

Paul writes in Romans 8, “All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. (Rom 8:22-27 MSG)

Now, to me, prayer is becoming more and more about seeking to acknowledge His presence, His sovereignty, over every moment of my life. I’m simply stunned at the amount of Scriptural command we blatantly ignore on this subject.

Luke 18:1 – “Pray consistently and never quit.”
Romans 12:12 – “Always be prayerful.”
Eph 6:18 – “Pray at all times and on every occasion.”
Php 4:6 – “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done.”
Col 4:2 – “Devote yourself to prayer with an open mind and a thankful heart.”
1 Thess 5:18 – “Pray unceasingly.”
James 5:13 – “Are any among you suffering? They should keep on praying about it.”

I really think that when the Father inspired these passages, He wasn’t telling us to spend our lives in a closet, nor was He suggesting that I stand in the kitchen at work with my eyes closed, my head tilted up or down, talking to God for those around me while the food burns. However, He did intend for us to spend our lives on our knees, spiritually speaking. Not hopelessly cowering in fear, but lovingly surrendering all of ourselves to Him.

CS Lewis writes:
Christ says, “Give me All.. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. . . . Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the desires you think wicked — the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”

Let me suggest an exercise, with some help from Max Lucado (to whom I am incredibly grateful! He ain’t always right, but he’s almost never wrong). Work out the math on this and get back to me when you get up off the floor.

There were 50 days between Passover and Pentecost.
In Acts 1:3-8, Luke tells us that Jesus spent 40 days with the disciples before ascending to heaven. Before leaving, He told them to wait in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit, and power to be His witnesses across the globe.
In Acts 1:13-14, we’re told that the group started as the Eleven, Mary the mother of Jesus, the other women (probably of Luke 8:1-3), and Jesus’ brothers. We’re also told that “They all joined constantly in prayer.” In v. 15, Luke says that the group in the house grew to 120! And they constantly prayed. No fighting, no arguing, no jockeying for authority or honor (despite all the passionate personalities, and the close quarters, and the awkward social situations). They constantly prayed.

Now, here’s the
participation portion of the exercise. Read aloud Acts 2:14-39, and time yourself. Multiply that amount of time by 2 to make up for crowd noise and interruptions where Peter might have had to pause. Multiply that amount by 4 because of v.40 (“With many other words he warned them, and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.'”). Now then, plug that number into this formula, and then compare what you see with how Christians serve God in America today.

X (amount of time spent praying) + Y (amount of time spent preaching) = “3000 were added to their number that day”.

Why is the church not reaching society? It ain’t because our music is slow and boring and out of touch, I can promise you that.

in HIS love,
Nick

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About Nick Gill

orphan-poet-adoptee-soldier-prodigal-servant-husband- counselor-desperate seeker after my Father's face "I feel my body weakened by the years as people turn to gods of cruel design. Is it that they fear the pain of death, or is it that they fear the joy of life?" - Toad the Wet Sprocket

Posted on 6 May, 2005, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. nick i liked your reference to the star wars trilogy. when i was working in birmingham, al, a couple of weeks ago, while i was in barnes & noble, near the mall there, i saw a book about how there are so many parts in those movies that could be related to the bible. i wish i knew the name of it, but you could probably look it up. sorry i don’t remember the name. i actually wanted the book for myself to use to create lessons to teach the youth group at my church that i at times get the honor of teaching.i really liked the excerpt from jack’s book there, about Christ wanting all of us, not a branch, but the whole tree.good stuff nick.

  2. Thanks Kenny! I grew up in Birmingham! My parents still live in McCalla! I visited the Roebuck Parkway congregation the Wednesday before Turkey Day 2004, and Hoover (where Chuck Webster preaches) that Sunday.I know this won’t be the book you’re talking about, but Joseph Campbell (not related to the Restoration Movement as far as I know) wrote a book called The Hero With A Thousand Faces, talking about the hero’s journey and how every culture tells stories with the same motif. Being a secular writer, he did not come to the conclusion that I have, that in all those stories, God was pointing to the Great Hero who would journey into the dark pit of death and emerge victorious. Thanks for reading!

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